Research published today has found national IT projects will be a major source of growth in spending within the UK healthcare IT market in the next five years.

A profile of this market by public sector publisher, Kable found national initiatives will underpin a steady growth up to 2011. While off-the-shelf software and large outsourcing contracts alone are predicted to account for an increase of 3-4% per year in the UK market during this period.

The UK public healthcare market profile to 2010/11 forecasts that total spending will rise from £2.25 billion in 2006/07 to £2.52bn in 2009/10.

Kable said this spending increase will be closely related to the delivery of the £12.4bn National Health Service (NHS) National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in England, which is leading local health organisations to prioritise the development of electronic health services, such as patient records and appointments systems.

It said that the trend towards integration and centralisation underlying the NPfIT, has discouraged healthcare trusts from developing software in-house and instead to look for turnkey solutions. This is fuelling a growth in spending on off-the-shelf software, forecast to rise from £137 million in 2006/07 to £201m in 2010/11.

The research found that, while the NPfIT accounts for just below half of ICT investment in England's NHS – with the proportion expected to increase by 2010 – other spending will still remain important. It points to strong growth in full outsourcing contracts, rising from £531m in the past financial year to £830m in 2010/11.

The research also questioned 142 UK health organisation professionals about delivery schedules. While supplier and contractual issues may be responsible for serious delays in some areas of the NPfIT, most organisations believe that it will be delivered.

Over two-thirds (69%) said delivery was completely or mostly feasible and do not regard the amalgamation of systems as a major problem. Kable said it expects that the NPfIT will ultimately deliver, although it will probably narrow its scope and, due to delays with the Summary Care Record and a restructuring of the framework, will not meet its 2014 deadline.

It also flags other UK initiatives as spending drivers, including the £88m, Welsh Informing Healthcare programme; the eight-year, £95m Department of Health, Social Service and Public Safety information integration programme recently launched in Northern Ireland; and the £300m deal between NHS National Services Scotland and Atos Origin for deploying e-health services.